Airport Security In America – The TSA vs The American Citizen
The destruction of the Twin Towers changed America forever. The events of 9/11 made it abundantly clear to every single citizen that terrorism was about to become a major factor in their existence. However, it is doubtful that when President Bush announced America’s “War On Terror”, the average American could anticipate just how much this new war would change their lives. As we begin 2012, we are still living under the intrusive eye of the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Prison is still full of accused terrorists. The much despised Transportation Security Agency (TSA) continues strip searching grand mothers in wheel chairs and sticking their hands down the pants of 5 year old kids. To make matters worse, Big Sister Janet Napolitano hinted that Americans might be subjected to even more intrusive security with this comment on the Charlie Rose Show, “Terrorists are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through. I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”
The American people have reached the boiling point over being exposed naked on potentially harmful body scanners while the even elderly and the very young are given physical searches that would lead to molestation charges in any civil society. Whether or not they are willing to continue to accept this on-going violation of their human dignity, not to mention possible violations of the Constitution, remains to be seen. We do know for a fact that the Airline Industry is going broke and the volume of flyers is falling steadily. Major carriers are filling for bankruptcy and certainly the TSA’s policies have not been helpful in convincing passengers to fly. Many Americans have decided to drive or take other alternative transportation and the struggling economy has led to many families cancelling their travel plans altogether.
There is an on-going debate about the effectiveness of the methods used by the TSA. Despite the fact that every single person boarding an airline in the United States is screened, there have been several alarming lapses in security, including the notorious Christmas Underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The very fact that this man was whisked through security in Amestredam, Holland exposed one of the biggest flaws in the TSA octopus. Air travel is international and until the TSA permits American carriers to be responsible for providing their own, additional security in foreign airports, American citizens are at the mercy of foreign governments when they travel outside the USA. Not only do we need private professional security of the highest standards to be used by American Carriers when they fly from foreign destinations, but all foreign carriers flying into the USA should be required to meet the same standards. The citizens of the United States should not have to suffer endless intrusions into their lives and risk to their very existence because some foreign governments or foreign carriers may refuse to properly secure their airlines. The FAA maintains a list of the safety of all foreign airlines and certainly lack of proper security should land any carrier on the banned section of the list.
When it comes to setting policy on how to protect travelers, the TSA has chosen what many many experts in the field feel is the least effective method. Despite a 2012 budget of 8 billion dollars and 58,000 employes, the TSA has failed many internal security tests with as many as 75% of the simulated bombs getting through screening. Even outside agencies, including newspapers and television stations, have exposed how they were able to repeatedly smuggle simulated contraband through security and find many alternative routes into secure areas of the airport that bypassed all the security checkpoints. To compound the problem, the TSA airport staff is composed of mainly low pay, hourly workers with little, if any, security training. There have even been documented cases of convicted criminals working the screening lines at our major airports. Reports abound of personal property disappearing from passenger’s luggage, abusive treatment by TSA staff and a general atmosphere of “Comply or Else.” We wonder how many Americans know that they can be charged with a felony if they object to the intrusiveness of the screening and attempt to leave the airport once they have entered the controlled security area. So much for the right to say “No” when a person feels their rights, their faith or their dignity is violated.
According to those who have worked in the field of Airport Security and terror prevention, there is a better way. It is called Behavioral Profiling. This method, which is in no way related to the politically in-correct and frankly in-effective method of Racial Profiling, has been used to perfection to protect the world’s most endangered airports in Israel. Behavioral Profiling involves using highly trained professionals at the security checkpoints instead of the vast legions of barely trained wage slaves, of which the TSA is so enamored. These professionals observe passengers and anyone else who happens to be in the area for any telltale indications of unusual behavior. They also ask direct questions of every single person about to board an airline. Simple, straight forward questions like “Who are you?, “Where have you been?”, “Where are you going?”, “Why are you going there?” and “Did anyone ask you to add anything to your luggage or carry on baggage?”. They observe the behavior and listen carefully to the traveler’s replies. If answers appear out of the ordinary or the passenger’s behavior does anything to indicate the need for a more extensive examination, they are then taken to a private area for an in-depth security screening. No one is putting their hands down the pants of a child in public at an Israeli airport. Respect for privacy and a calm, polite professional demeanor is expected of every member of the Israeli Airport Security Services.
The Israeli system works and it works well, because in addition to the fully trained security personnel at the airports, from the moment a traveler buys their ticket, Israeli security is checking for any factors that might indicate anything out of the ordinary. For example, someone who buys a one way ticket in cash, then requests a window seat over the wing, would be flagged, in advance, for a full security screening at the airport. Someone who enters an airport carrying an empty suitcase would be put through a high level screening because the Israelis would want to know if that person had already placed a bomb, if they were perhaps using the suitcase to try to conceal something they planned to steal from the airport or if they were trying to test the security. According to Shlomo Harnoy, the former chief of the Israel Security Agency’s Aviation Security Department, bloated agencies like the TSA, that spend billions on ineffective methods, are not the solution. He said, “Whoever is concentrating on stopping old ladies bringing a bottle of mineral water on to the plane will not find the terrorist, or the bomb. The old lady is not a suicide bomber and the bottle of water is not a bomb component.”
Of course, the TSA and its enablers in the White House and Congress have some standard, pat replies to any attempt to bring the TSA back under control. Instead of taking steps to emulate the best airport security in the world, they moan the United States is too big to use the Israeli system and continue to treat all Americans like suspects. Rather than end the burden on the budget of 58,000 employees, 44,000 of whom are members of a union for Federal workers, the big spenders in Washington continue to roll out more and more costly programs to “protect” Americans from the threat of terror. Despite the fact that the TSA continues to fail at its mission and the Airline Industry is in the toilet, partly because passengers are sick and tired of being treated like criminals, there are no indications the TSA plans to change its methods and stop making travelers feel like actors in a bad porn movie. Many Americans have simply had enough and are quite happy to discover the charm and beauty in their own communities during vacation time, rather than go through another round of choosing between back scatter radiation or a “touch your junk” pat down. Meanwhile, we move another step closer towards a Police State and the economy suffers. We would hope the political elite who run the country might wake up to the fact that Americans are fed up, but then again, there hasn’t been a really good miracle since Moses parted the Red Sea and Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish.